The Structure and Dynamics eJournal welcomes articles, book reviews, data, simulations, research material, and special issues that examine aspects of human evolution, social structure and behavior, culture, cognition, or related topics. Our goal is to advance the historic mission of anthropology in the broadest sense to describe and explain the range of variation in human biology, society, culture and civilization across time and space. Submissions of databases, software tutorials, programs, and teaching materials are welcomed, as are communications on research materials of interest to a wide variety of science and social science researchers, including networks, dynamical models, and complexity research and related genre.
Volume 4, Issue 3, 2010
The analysis of the gold price series for 2003–2010 employing both the methodology developed by Didier Sornette and the one of the authors allows forecasting the collapse in gold prices in April – June 2011. The article discusses both the scenarios that could allow avoiding this collapse, and the possibilities of the “gold bubble burst” leading to the second wave of the global economic crisis.
Multilevel selection is a powerful theoretical framework for understanding how complex hierarchical systems evolve by iteratively adding control levels. Here I apply this framework to a major transition in human social evolution, from small-scale egalitarian groups to large-scale hierarchical societies such as states and empires. A major mathematical result in multilevel selection, the Price equation, specifies the conditions concerning the structure of cultural variation and selective pressures that promote evolution of larger-scale societies. Specifically, large states should arise in regions where culturally very different people are in contact, and where interpolity competition – warfare – is particularly intense. For the period of human history from the Axial Age to the Age of Discovery (c.500 BCE–1500 CE), conditions particularly favorable for the rise of large empires obtained on steppe frontiers, contact regions between nomadic pastoralists and settled agriculturalists. An empirical investigation of warfare lethality, focusing on the fates of populations of conquered cities, indicates that genocide was an order of magnitude more frequent in steppe-frontier wars than in wars between culturally similar groups. An overall empirical test of the theory’s predictions shows that over ninety percent of largest historical empires arose in world regions classified as steppe frontiers.
Anthropologists often recorded the typical amount of kinship altruism – that is, the altruism between individuals who identify one another as kin -- they observed in what they referred to as tribal or traditional societies (e.g., Murdock 1949; Keesing 1975; Fortes 1969; Evans-Pritchard 1940). This altruism, they noted, was extended to very distant kin. This altruism toward distant kin, as several scholars have pointed out (E. O. Wilson, D.S. Wilson), is fundamentally inconsistent with the predictions of kin selection. In this paper, we present a possible solution to this puzzle, and one that does not reply on group selection. To do this we introduce a new evolutionary concept called “ancestor-descendant conflict” and the mathematical formula upon which it is based. The concept of “ancestor-descendant conflict” is a multi-generational diachronic extension of Trivers’ concept of “parent-offspring conflict.” It leads to an extension and revision of Hamilton’s rule “C
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